HIST 3814O: Crafting Digital History
Summer 2019

Instructor: Professor Shawn Graham

Introduction: This is a methods course about learning to use the huge variety of digitized historical resources available in the world, including some perhaps unconventional sources such as social media. You will learn some of the habits of doing born-digital work, including the doing of digital history as an outward facing public history.

Class format: The materials for this class are also born-digital, and can be found on the course website at http://craftingdigitalhistory.ca. Please note that I update these materials each term, and they can change without notice. You will read, watch, and discuss the class materials via various online tools including Hypothes.is and slack.com. We do not use cuLearn in the course. We work on the open web instead. Successful completion of this class involves doing a series of exercises each week designed to push you out of your comfort zone, AND to be a collegial and generous scholar engaging with, and helping your peers to achieve success. What is challenging for one student will not necessarily be challenging for another, and I expect you to push yourself and pull others along as you go. Thus open and honest reporting of what works and what hasn’t worked, is a meaningful aspect of this course. You don’t need to be techy to succeed, but you do need to be willing to embrace when things go ‘wrong’.

There is no set meeting time. You will need to be disciplined and complete exercises for the module by the end of that module’s week; students who fall behind tend to get overwhelmed by the scale of the tasks if they let it pile up. In my experience, trying to complete this course in a compressed time frame is extremely difficult. Stay on task, complete one module a week. Work that is completed by the end of the week can expect formative feedback from me by the middle of the subsequent week. I prioritize responding to recent work, rather than overdue work. There is no grade penalty for overdue work, but you will miss out on feedback.

Aims and goals: this course aims to change how you think about, and think with, digitized resources and digital tools. I am not trying to turn you into a coder. Rather, I am trying to turn you into a historian who is thoughtful and reflective about the ways digital tools transform what it is we know about the past and how we come to know it.

Assessment: the course is divided into a series of modules. Each module has a series of exercises. Each exercise is more difficult than the previous (more or less) and is designed to build on what comes before. You are to complete as many as you can in a thoughtful manner: and so you will keep a kind of ‘fail log’ that tracks your triumphs and fails. The grading of this depends on the quality of your growth as a historian not how many exercises you complete (nor how many of them achieve a ‘right’ answer). I prize process over product. A summative ‘project’ caps off this process, where you use the skills you have learned to build something new or to extend something that already exists.

Texts: everything we use is open access or otherwise freely available online. You will not need to buy any texts or subscribe/purchase any software.

Questions: email me at shawn.graham@carleton.ca or on twitter @electricarchaeo